Recycling medications can save millions of lives, so what’s the holdup? | Waste Wise Products

Recycling medications can save millions of lives, so what’s the holdup?

Pros and Cons of Recycling Medication

Recycling holds an important place in our daily lives today. This is because of the collective efforts made by the federal government and environmental groups to raise the public awareness of the dangers of improper waste disposal. Many recycling programs are being run nationwide and target a number of castoffs such as used electronics, empty plastic bottles, cans, etc. But there are other popular products that could also be targeted such as unused pharmaceuticals. This article discusses the pros and cons of launching a recycling program on pharmaceutical medications.


There are hundreds of billions of dollars worth of medications that are trashed every year in the United States. In most cases, those medications are unused or within a few months of expiration. Rather than being destroyed, these products could be repurposed and sent where they are needed such as in underdeveloped global locations. As you might know, the demand for medications is particularly high in third-world nations. Aid and development programs could greatly benefit from drug recycling programs taking place in advanced countries such as the USA. This would allow them to direct their limited resources towards other basic needs including education and famine eradication for the poor.


One of the major barriers to the implementation of a drug-recycling program is the potential development of counterfeits. These can be very dangerous since they aren’t regulated in any way. For example, in global locations where access to medication is limited, sick people who are in real need of drugs may be encouraged to buy expired medications, which could worsen their disease and even lead them to death.

Another con is the fact that there’s only one channel by which unused medications can be collected in the U.S.: the current medical system. If you’re running a nonprofit organization whose mission to send pharmaceuticals from the U.S. to overseas, you have to be affiliated with one of the few organizations that are legally permitted to collect and redistribute unused medications.

The benefits of drug-recycling programs are obvious. Not only can they help save millions of lives, but they are also a cost-effective solution in aid & development initiatives.

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